To Consider 2012 by Deena Metzger

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Dear Reader: 

These two sites, Meeting Extinction Illness- Meeting Extinction and To Consider are closing down.  If you wish to continue to receive essays from me,, please sign up for Ruin and Beauty, and or Desperate Letters for a Wounded Earth or sign up for her mailing list on  Peace and Blessings.


This is probably the last post to To Consider 2012. You can also find it on my Ruin and Beauty blog. To follow my work, please sign up on that blog. I will continue to write my concerns, hopes and visions for the future.


December 21, 2012 — Many of us were involved in a myth that could carry us into consciousness and bring healing and restoration to our besieged and suffering planet. There were many opportunities for exploitation, obfuscation and fear mongering around the date, and most of them, if not all, were utilized. But those who had studied the myth and its archeological foundation knew, and we hope the others see by now, that whatever was or was not happening on that date would not lead to planetary or galactic disaster. Rather we were witness to and participating in the unfolding of a mythic story derived from ancient consciousness. The source was Maya in this instance. It is important that so many people across the earth were willing to grant foresight to an ancient people. To honor the myth was also to honor their culture and knowledge and make amends for hundreds…

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This is Day 16 before 12/21/2012.

I awakened this morning without dreaming except for a continuous image of a thick Modern Library book, entitled Change. I felt the need to listen deeply to voices that are not my own nor human. I was reminded of the “Transmission Letter,” I wrote in May 1986. It circled the globe, passed from hand to hand by the original thirty-six recipients. In that letter, I spoke of a voice I heard while driving on the freeway some months after the death of my dearest friend that said, “You know, you are being asked to forgive those who were pulled out early, or who did not volunteer to be here to help with the necessary change or to bear witness to the end.”

I have been carrying the consciousness of that letter since that time, twenty-six years ago. Now we are at an essential moment when everything is being asked of us for the future. We either continue as we have and the descent into the on-going tragedy of human and non-human life will accelerate, or we will become those who are here to initiate the necessary changes and offerings so that we will not be called to bear witness to the end.

Guided by the 19 Ways to the 5th World, that were given to me and to the community, (see this Blog) I have understood that the mythic date of 12/21/2012 marks an opportunity for each of us and so for the planet.

In Topanga, we have been considering this date for several years and are gathering for three days to meet this moment. I have written about this before, if not endlessly, and it is the focus of the Blog I started a few months ago, To Consider 2012,, on which this is also appended.

(Details are at the end of this posting. I offer them so that you don’t have to invent the wheel in order to create your own gathering, and so you can be accompanied, if from a distance, as you also observe this time in our global lives.)

As I mediated on the dream image this morning, I heard what felt like a call similar to the one that came to me in 1986, to listen, to step entirely out of my own personal concerns, even the concern to listen well, and to … “Begin writing!”

2012 As I began considering the aperture that this date, because of its mythic significance, has for us, I didn’t fully understand what is required or made possible. I admit, sixteen days from the very date itself, while I am writing this piece for and to the community, that I still don’t understand. How can I or anyone understand?

2013 The date 2013 pops up on the page as if I am writing an outline, or Spirit is assuring me / us that there can be a future. I am willing to be seen as a fool while I take note of what might be signs, rather than miss something.

I thought I was writing to the community that was preparing to gather, though I did not know what words would follow, and then realized I was also inviting you to read this.


We are going to spend three days together marking this opportunity to align with the heart of the universe.

The Kogi people, probably the last surviving pre-Columbian people on the planet, who have devoted their individual and tribal lives to sustaining the heart of the world, have advised us, relentlessly, since they decided to emerge from seclusion in the Sierra Nevada of Columbia, that the world is dying and we are responsible.

The Kogi came to me in a dream in 1999. It was a true meeting. They asked me what I would give in return for the possibilities for the planet that they wished to transmit. I said I would give my life.

My friend, Victor Perera, had met with the Kogi through Alan Ereira. Ereira went through great ordeal to create the film, The Heart of the World. Afterwards, he wrote the book, The Elder Brother’s Warning, and then established the Tairona Heritage Trust,

Victor is a protagonist in my latest novel, La Negra y Blanca, Fugue and Commentary. He is now on the other side, and is, perhaps, guiding me, us, from there. In response to my dream, Victor said that the Kogi had always been able to communicate telepathically with the elders on the planet, but now the communications are blocked by all our activities. I was profoundly humbled by the dream meeting I had had and have devoted myself, as best as I know how, accordingly.

In this moment as I am writing the above, not knowing what will appear next on the page, but continuing nevertheless, I remember that the Kogi have been, for several years since their first emergence into our world, calling together, partnering with the Indigenous, the Native People of this planet so they can learn from each other and live and act in concert. They certainly recognize that they are among the ones who know what has been violated, what must be healed and what are the intrinsic ways to accomplish this. If the original spirit and earth aligned wisdom can be restored then we will have a future.

I am trying to imagine the actual content, exchange and activity of their secret gatherings, secret from us, the perpetrators. I am trying to imagine the specific ways they are meeting among themselves and with each other.

We must understand the gravity and urgency of such times that call the Kogi to dare to enter into our midst and run the risk of being blinded and contaminated by our distorted ways in order to gather with the Indigenous and to alert us to the fate of the heart of the world.

How would they sit, or gather, or meet on these three days with any of the Indigenous people they have already met?

Remembering the content of my true, if dream, meeting with the Kogi: they said, “Teach the pattern. Put the forms in place.”

We understand that form is content and, therefore, if we continue to use and have allegiance to the old forms of our lives, if we adhere to the conventional assumptions and dominant culture, the content of what we do will not change no matter what is said, no matter the small activities we engage.

As many of you know, I have a real and profound relationship with one we call the Elephant Ambassador. So I am trying to imagine what the elephants, who I consider the wise ones on this planet, are demanding that we do to meet, observe, and change in these times so that all life might be preserved and Creation restored.

What are the Kogi, the elephant, dolphin, whale, wolf (being slaughtered in this country as I write) eagle, lion people, what are rain, fire, wind, earth asking of us, demanding of us? How are we each to use the sacred opportunity of these three days to meet them fully?


What is this date after all? Why the fuss and urgency? The ancient Maya identified a place in the Milky Way that was, for them, the place of birth and death. Individual lives, tribal life and the cosmos were intrinsically connected to it.

– – And as it happens, the place they identified is the dark hole around which our solar system circles, is the dark hole from which the solar system and so all known life, all our lives emerged.

— And as it happens, our very sun, around which we circle, will be, with other planets,in a direct alignment with this dark hole, this place of birth and death, the heart of the universe, at 3:12 am on December 21st. The light of the sun aligned with the dark at the center.

Or so it is said.

How will we meet the demand? How will we meet the Heart of the Universe? How will we step out of our involvement and enchantment with the details of our own little lives, the bloody sacrificial altar to which we have been relentlessly bringing the earth, so as to meet this sacred challenge, the great possibility of our collective and community lives?

Everyone who is reading this is has been met by spirit and called to some awakening. Perhaps you met Hurricane Sandy, heard the trees snap in the fierce wind and cold, or suffered the torrential rains. Perhaps you are in the Midwest, wondering where the water will come from for your crops or are watching the Mississippi decline rapidly, aware that it may soon be unable to transport goods along its length. Perhaps you have been a recent a victim of earthquake or landslide. Perhaps you have witnessed the recent forest fires and fire storms. Maybe Gaia is speaking. We cannot continue to live as if the consequences of our behavior will not affect us or our families or the earth ? Or perhaps, it is your family or beloveds who are being blown up or tortured now almost anywhere on the globe?

Apology. I have misled us. I didn’t know better. My best thought, until this moment, has been that this date is about our shift in consciousness, yours and mine. A radical shift in consciousness leading to living differently, entirely. It is, certainly, about this, but not so much that our personal shift, insight, activity, takes the only focus. Not so much that we continue to focus upon the small things we will do to appease our fears or conscience. Not so much that we want to decide in advance what we will do or not do on behalf of planetary and species survival.

This morning it seems to me that we are being called to another consciousness, not ours, but that which was connected with the earth in the beginning. A consciousness that would never have developed the ideas and values that have led to the horrors that are afflicting all beings at this time.

Imagine this. The Kogi, the Indigenous, the Animals, the Dead, the Ancestors, the Elementals, Gaia, Herself, will be entering our circles, temples, yurts, meeting rooms, will be literally behind us, invisible but present, insisting that we devote ourselves to meeting this moment. Will we listen, hear, accept their call, instructions and guidance? How shall we be, who shall we become, in their presence?

This is the question we have been given to hold at the alignment with the Heart of World and the Universe.


What follows are some excerpts from our original announcement regarding the Topanga gathering The schedule as we have imagined it until this moment is also included. However, we yield in advance and entirely to the guidance and direction of Spirit as it is offered.

Happily, some of those who were going to join us for our small Daré are choosing, instead, to stay home and gather the community around them in resonance with us. At the least, there will be parallel and aligned gatherings and ceremonies of one form or another in Seattle, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Connecticut, Texas, Philadelphia, Hawaii, Boston, Nashville, Curaçao, and Guatemala. These are not open gatherings, but our hope is that you will find the means to be with Spirit, in solitude or gathered with us and with community, human and non-human, wherever you are living, in the ways you are led to for these days.

If there are any spaces, at the Topanga gathering, it is primarily because these other gatherings are manifesting. Please contact us immediately if you hope to join us. Most importantly feel free to post open, aligned events on this page in the comment section.


Dare’ on Behalf of the Future

Here in Topanga, we have been thinking deeply about 2012 and have been for many years. This mythic, historic, astrological, astronomical moment calls us to step across fully into the heart and mind of the Fifth World so that each breath of our lives assures a viable future for all beings. The time of integrity is here. How do we meet it together?

12/21/2012 is the spirit centered, earth centered, heart centered, community centered moment that calls us to live, as the Dine’ say, according to the Beauty Way. Hozro. We have been together in so many ways over the years. We have been together considering the gravity and possibility of these times, holding fast to each other’s hearts. We have hoped to sustain the heart of creation and to contribute to a shift of consciousness that helps restore balance and beauty and creates sanctuary for all beings. Now 2012 is upon us. What do we want to create and how will we do it?

Preparing to do so in our own individual ways for so many years, shifting as we have into new lives with and among each other, these days call us to meet this great challenge together as a community. 2012 invites a new lived consciousness of human and non-human beings.

The Dare’

We are offering a three-day Dare’ from December 20th at noon through December 22nd at midnight.

December 20th Deep Reckoning and Introspection.

Dedicated disengagement from the Fourth World.

December 21st Alignment with the heart of the universe.


December 22nd Invoking and honoring Spirit.

Meeting the land and yielding to the ways of the natural world.

Articulating the new ways.


Entering the Fifth World through commitment to the Way.

The Means

Rounds of Meditation, Prayer and Communion, Invocation, Silence, Solitude and Blessing. Meditation and Prayer on the Land and For the Land.

Council, Visioning, Dream telling, Story Telling and Divination.

Drumming, Music, Ritual, Ceremony and Camaraderie,

Solitude and Silence

Tending the Fire.

Offerings and Offering of Oneself to the Spirits, the Land and the Beings of the Land.

Tentative(!) Schedule


12 noon Light Fire

Astrology Reading

Focus and Purpose

Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

1:30 pm Council – Dedicated disengagement from what injures and destroys.

3:00 pm Drumming Begins [ continuous drumming 12/20 3:30 pm to12/21

3:00 pm Camaraderie

4:00 pm Dream Telling

Story telling re difference between 4th and 5th worlds.

5:00 pm Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer, Music

6:00 pm Dinner

7:30 pm Council – Intentions

9:00 pm Journey and Visioning / Dream Telling / Story

10:30 pm Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

11:00 Supper

12:00 Begin Fast

12:00 am End but for Drumming

1:00 am Begin four hour sacred drumming.

3:00 am Group drumming to acknowledge the solstice moment

3:12 am Under the Milky Way

3:30 am Relight and rededicate fire.

5:00 am End group drumming

Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 Alignment with the Heart of the Universe. Transformation.

Drumming continues

10:00 am Relight Fire

Align with Center of Galaxy

Focus. 19 Ways

Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

11:30 am Dream, Story, Vision

12:30 pm Council – Alignment

2:00 pm Break Fast Food and Camaraderie

2:45-3:45 pm End Drumming together

until 4:30 pm Continue Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

4:30 pm Community Divinations

5:30 – 7 pm Council – Offering oneself to transformation.

7 – 8:00 pm Food and Camaraderie

8:00 pm Journey and Visioning / Dream Telling / Story

9:30 pm Council – How does a Community Cross into the 5th World?

to Midnight Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012: Exploring and Articulating the New Ways. Responsibility. Entering the 5th World through Commitment to the Way.

10:00 am Relight Fire

Retrospective – Where have we come?

Focus and Articulate Goals

Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

11:30 am Dream, Story, Vision

Reading the Signs

12:30-2:00 pm Council – 5th World

2:00-3:30 pm End Fast, Food and Camaraderie

3:30-4:30 pm Music, Dance, Celebration

6:00 pm Meditation

7:00 pm Food and Camaraderie

8:00 pm Council on the future of community and all beings.

10:00 pm Drumming, Music, Community

* * * * *

We are being called together to create the possibility to meet these times. We will do it as simply and cooperatively as possible. This has to be a small gathering. Our hope is that we will be able to be outside for much of the time, meditating on the land, sitting around the fire, using the outdoor kitchen for very simple food preparation and serving – reviving some of the most simple and old, old ways of community and communion. However, the indoor space is small, the weather unpredictable. Parking is limited. When it rains, the land becomes virtually impassable. We can expect to encounter just the right difficulties to help us transform. We hope to meet whatever arises with heart, great generosity and exquisite care for the land, our neighbors, each other and all the beings present.

2012 requires us to be simple, quiet, modest in our gathering and to take responsibilityfor ourselves, each other and the land. It is asking us to create forms with light footprints. It is asking us to meet Spirit and the land more than it is asking us to meet each other.

We will set up four tents, one in each of the four directions, so that, no matter the weather, someone can be meditating for and listening to the land and the spirits throughout the gathering.

As the three-day Dare’ on Behalf of the Future approaches on Dec. 20-22, 2012, we find ourselves immersed in preparing ourselves both individually and as a community to mark this event. We are asking what questions we carry for each other, what changes we are preparing to make, how we can serve the time.

We are imagining a progression of detaching from untenable lifestyles to resonance with the heart of the universe and then to stepping into the possibilities of new life for ourselves and all beings. We are looking to see how we can each shift and how a community shifts as well to meet this time of difficulty and opportunity. The schedule provides some framework to do this work and be in ceremony together.

Notes and Intentions

Our core time marking the solstice alignment is from 1 am to 5 a.m. on the morning of December 21, 2012 with the exact moment at 3:12 am PST. We will have a focused drumming session for that time. Ideally, we will also have continuous drumming from 3 pm on December 20th until 5 am December 21. This is dependent on who is here and what emerges as possible. It will be arranged according to what Spirit presents during our time together.

A sacred fire will be lit at the beginning of the event and will be kept burning until the end. The fire will be renewed ritually at the beginning of each day. It will be renewed again at 3:30 am on December 21. People may volunteer to be fire keepers.

* * * * *

While the land in Topanga will be open to the community for these three days for ceremony, ritual, prayer, meditation, drumming, music, invocation, silence, tending the sacred fire and blessing, along with food and camaraderie, conversation and companionship, no one will be able to sleep over or camp on the land overnight. Everyone must arrange for their own housing for sleep and restoration. Food contributions, soup, bread and rice, will be needed.

This Daré, will be one of great simplicity. As 2013 requires us to simplify our lives profoundly, these ritual days will be in keeping with that directive.

A question we will hold at each moment is: How will we treat and take care of each other, human and non-human, and the earth in the 5th world?

Contributions/Dana are expected to support the cost of the event and, hopefully, to bring in a few elders and wisdom keepers who cannot afford to attend without having transportation and expenses paid for.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made through the 501(C)(3), Mandlovu at SEE, Social and Environmental entrepreneurs, 22231 Mulholland Hwy, Ste 209, Calabasas, CA 91302. (Tel: 818-225-9150, Fax: 818-225-9151). Or go to SEE’s website at


Please note again, there are few places left for the Topanga Daré 2012, so if you are, hoping to attend, please call Danelia Wild, 310-815-1060 or email her at immediately to receive the necessary information to attend, to make reservations and/or for questions. No one admitted without reservations.


Peace, Hope and Blessings,

Mitakye Oyasin, All Our Relatios]ns


This Blog To Consider  2012 was first imagined so that I could share my ruminations on preparing to meet the challenge of 12/21/12 and to address the profoundly serious question of how we shall  live on behalf of life.  It was never meant to be a theoretical or abstract Blog.  The primary assumption is that we must shift and we must do it now and wholeheartedly.  My prayer was / is that it would contribute to making the differences that are essential if we and the planet are going to survive.  But perhaps, these ideas were in my mind when I first began the Blog Ruin and Beauty, to which that Sharon refers.

Sharon Simone has taken the need for profound change and action deep into her heart.  I am proud and grateful to present her essay and most ethical and life changing activity on behalf of the future.  May we all follow her lead in meeting the opportunity for transformation.  Thank you, Sharon.


There are secret passageways to another vital life for this planet. You have to find yours and burrow through. You have a unique way waiting for you that belongs to you. It is the exact fulfillment of your life, experience, understanding, suffering and heart. As I have mine. Each of ours is distinct but aligned with each other’s. Restoring Creation is what will we do together…Spirit says there are hidden passageways to restore creation. But … entering them asks everything of me and of you.

~ Deena Metzger (Why Am I Writing a Blog, Ruin and Beauty Blog September 11, 2010)

On October 10, 2010, I posted a response (below) to this excerpt from the 9/11/2010 blog because I had just had an unexpected encounter with the Kern River and had an inkling about a possible passageway I might burrow through that involved chanting the names of rivers. I did not then understand what was happening in the encounter or how radically acknowledging the rivers in such a way would alter me. My understanding was and probably still is unfolding.

Driving home from Carmel, California near where my son was married in the woods this past weekend, I found myself overcome with the beauty of the landscape–earth and sky thrown open, gorgeous yellow grasses deepening to earth brown with the fading light. I could barely breathe as the sweep of my life across 66 years undulated before me and within me. A profound call, cry, longing to live the beauty and the sorrow sewn into the many years of kinship and landscape I am opened up. If I call out the names of the rivers of my childhood – Rio Grande, Arkansas, Gunnison, Platte, Colorado might I then know the exact passageway to crawl down to live?

I have been calling the names of the five rivers of my childhood for two years now in an effort to crawl down that secret passageway that belongs to me—the one that will show me what my part is in restoring this planet as December 21, 2012 fast approaches. And, there is a sixth river, the Kern that I have also been calling out to because it rooted itself in my solar plexus five years ago on a week’s solo retreat near Mt. Pinos. For that retreat I brought with me one piece of music. For months every time I listened to Emmy Lou Harris sing Kern River I wept; I wanted to understand why. A retreat was a good time to ask such a question. All week long I played the song over and over but I did not find out why I wept.

I had no idea the Kern River was located in California until driving home from my son’s wedding I saw a sign for Kern County. Lyrics from Kern River began running through me as the landscape overtook me. I wept profusely as we drove through this beautiful land. Although I did not see the river, I felt it running through me.

The Kern River is as insistent and fierce as the lore and history that surrounds it. Many who have not respected its ferocity have lost their lives to these waters. It’s not deep nor wide but it’s a mean piece of water my friend, the song goes.

Childhood was a mean piece of water for me and my six brothers and sisters—much of it like the Class 5 white water rapids of the Kern. The impact of a childhood of physical, sexual and emotional violence spilled over into many of my children and my siblings’ children. One of my own six children, Dorothy Ann, lost her life to heroin ten years ago tomorrow, but really to pain she could not surmount. My history is responsible for some of that pain.

I had not known that I am kin with the river and landscape—that we are inseparable, until I was overcome with a lifetime of tears riding through Kern County. A longing and call inscribed itself in me that day until I really knew that I am landscape and river. Sewn into me are beauty and sorrow longing to be known, expressed, and honored—that means the river story I am. The landscape story I am. I am not separate from the river and the land.

Recently, I read Barry Lopez’s Crossing Open Ground (1989). He suggests who we become is intimately shaped by the exterior landscape: the interior landscape responds to the character and subtlety of an exterior landscape; the shape of the individual mind is (as) affected by land as it is by genes, (p.65) The rivers of my childhood, then, have shaped me. I am not separate from the rivers or the land. Some of you know this. I didn’t.

It is right, then, to call the rivers for direction.

Colorado, Rio Grande, Arkansas, Platte, Gunnison, Kern—an incantation, a call, a cry from my heart that I might find the exact passageway to burrow through on behalf of restoration and healing of our home, this planet Earth, all of us, land, river, beings of every kind. I dared to believe when I felt the Kern River and land in that valley begin to flow contiguously in me—began to believe that the rivers actually might know the way. This is new to me—this way of thinking or imagining. It shouldn’t be.

Deena, your letter/blog called forth this possibility. I heard. I hoped. I made a commitment to calling the rivers.

I have kept to calling the rivers. Yet, as you said in this first Ruin and Beauty blog entry in on why you are writing the 2012 letters—entering the passageway asks everything of us. Somewhere you even said that bearing witness is no longer enough. Action is required. Now, I know this to be true. A few months ago the call to the rivers deepened and I knew I had to go to them, meet them one by one starting with the Kern.

In September of this year I was to be away for a month teaching in a masters Social Justice program in Detroit. It wasn’t practical or even sensible to go to the Kern River before I left and yet I felt the nearing of the passageway that December 21, 2012 represents. I felt urgent. So, I went to the Kern for two days and nights as an offering and commitment on behalf of the possibilities of this critical time. I am a woman who has never gone to sit with a river until now.

I met the river, sat with the river and listened. I did not know until the middle of my teaching weekend what burrowing through this passage, this journey to the Kern River, had unleashed in me or how changed I had been until I made a startling decision after hearing one of my students tell a story.

The young woman prefaced her story by saying that one of the texts for the weekend course, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2002) by Howard Zinn was difficult for her to even open let alone read because a white man was “about to narrate my people’s struggle for freedom. I always have trouble when a white person narrates this story, our story.”

I, Sharon,am a white woman who is teaching this content area with a cohort of students that is 90% Black and female. This is the typical demographic in this masters in Social Justice Program. The young woman held my feet to the fire—through what she described next about her recent undergraduate degree program—a Women’s Study and Gender Studies program in which all her professors were white feminists. She astutely commented on how she felt as a Black woman having white feminist theories presented to her as if these could directly be applied to her. She wondered how white feminist theory came to represent all feminist theory. She wondered when Black Feminist theory would ever be sanctioned by the Academy. She meant: When will Black feminist scholarship ever be sanctioned with teaching positions at colleges and universities? She raised her voice and feelings to the Women’s Studies Department at her undergraduate school. One course, taught by a Black woman feminist was added to the curriculum and she took the course and was thrilled for all the reasons she should have been. This young woman reached me deeply.

After she told her story I heard a voice inside me say: It is time for you to stand down. I understood that it was time for me to make way for a Black scholar-activist to teach the four courses I teach each year in the program. The job no longer belongs to me. As long as I hold this position, a legitimately trained and experienced Black scholar-activist will be outside the Academy. But my young Black female student desperately needs to see a Black scholar activist standing before her—a professor who has broken through the color lines in the Academy— has lived a particular struggle for freedom—is a role model—so this young Black woman can hope for true freedom for herself.

I helped found this pioneering program in the country right after 9/11, in fact as a response to 9/11. I am proud of this. However, now, the moral and ethical action for me to take is to stand down. That’s a military term. It’s the right term for one whose lineage and privilege flows from white power relations in this country. Standing down has enormous implications for me as a white person who came of age in Detroit while the city burned in the late sixties. I have always longed to know what a white person could do besides understand our privilege. The answer to this for me right now in this moment as December 21, 2012 approaches is to yield power, position and some measure of financial security.

I resigned from teaching in this program the day after we finished the course. I said to the Dean and Program Director that I could best serve the young student who reached me so deeply, the Social Justice program, the college that shaped me as a young woman, and even the city of Detroit—a city with an indomitable spirit that I love—by standing down. I asked that a Black scholar-activist be hired in my place. That is in process already.

Spirit says there are hidden passageways to restore creation. But … entering them asks everything of me and of you.

I burrowed through a passageway by sitting with the Kern River before I left for Detroit. What I understand now, a month later, is that calling the rivers then sitting with the Kern River changed my consciousness. I knew what action I was being called to take. A young woman spoke truth to power. I have never been at peace about race relations since I lay on the floor in my apartment with my new husband in July of 1967 while bombs and guns went off outside during the Detroit rebellion and I understood grave injustices in power distribution were at work and had been for hundreds of years. My race was at the heart of this injustice. A limit had been reached. Until now, I had not known what would make way for peace between the races.

Kern, Colorado, Arkansas, Gunnison, Platte, Rio Grande—great gratitude for showing me this secret passageway. This shift gives me hope that there is another vital life for this planet.


Let me tell you some stories.

In Ireland, that would be the voice of the Shaman Bard. We don’t know if it is the shaman speaking as a poet storyteller or the poet is speaking as a shaman (healer, visionary diviner, historian, myth-teller, peacemaker); they are entirely intertwined and it has been so for thousands of years and was so when I was there this month.

On the last day in Ireland, we visited the stone circle, the largest in Western Europe, at Lough Gur that dates back at least 5000 years. A few miles away, ancient stones, also moss and lichen covered, comprise the Wedge tomb, where an old woman had lived for many years. On a grass covered hill among hawthorn and oak trees, the stones serve as a threshold between the lake, Lough Gur, and the Grange Stone Circle, The Lios.

When the old woman died in the early 18th century, the roof stones were thrown off. The money diggers who searched the tomb found only burned bones in an old jug.

It is said that there is a buried treasure, especially in the nearby extensive Knockadoon circle, which is guarded by a fire breathing mythic bull that no one has been able to subdue, so great is the fear that arises when the bull arises from the earth.


Earlier in the week, we went to a dolman, a small mound tomb in a farmer’s field on the Beara peninsula. You climb over a ladder, descend along a small stream of rainwater, pass through the narrow entrance between two boulders and cross the field to a sacred tree and the small tomb. KJ went first, striding across the wet grasses, before noticing the four bulls that were following her, before noting that she was wearing a red flannel jacket. When she turned around, she saw she had time only to scamper to the entrance between the stones, remove and hide her red shirt, then clamber to the roof in order to establish height. The bulls, particularly, the black bull, were not daunted and remained guarding the tomb.

And so it was left to me and L to return to the road thirty feet above the grassland to see if we could locate the farmer to help us. L. went ahead of me and I walked to a spot across from the dolman, leaned over the stone wall and called to the bulls, “Come here, my beauties, my beloveds, my lovelies.”

In the long history of Ireland, cattle are known to be sacred. The river Boyne is the Goddess Boann, is the sacred cow, and is also the river of stars, the Milky Way of life and death whose center will meet all of us directly on December 21, 2012.

The shaman bards know the ways to work with or around the fire breathing bulls and to meet the holy ones with praise. For centuries, they have been carrying the practice of crossing between the worlds, speaking across species, communicating with the holy ones: “Come here, my beauties, my beloveds, my lovelies.”

My intuition proved correct. The bulls, even the black one, turned and slowly grazed their way toward the cliff where I stood as KJ made her stealthy way back to the alleged safety of this world. We met, woman and bulls, for a moment eye to eye, though separated by the hill wall, and then I also returned to the car.


Approaching any event, I am always alert for what is at the threshold. In this instance, at the Wedge tomb, just hours before leaving Ireland, as we walked quietly toward the past and what wisdom we might glean for the future, we were assaulted by the reverberations of shotguns from a hidden glen across the road. Reverence on our side of the road and gun shots on the other intermingled in a constant rhythm for as long as we were there.

Then we went to the Grange Circle itself. This circle is one of many stone circles and mounds, Newgrange, Loch Crew, Knowth and Dowth, that seem to have been erected as giant calendars to mark the coming of sunlight and or moon light on the quarter days, solstices and equinoxes of the year. The farmer who owns the land upon which the circle sits was not there this Sunday. Still, we put coins in the rusted money box, its donation slot barely visible, as we went through the gate onto the site where the sun enters the passageway on Midsummer’s Eve.

It seems to me that I learn more standing in silence and wonder, while holding the question of what vision has driven people all over the world to exert what seem like more than human efforts to erect stone monuments honoring the light, than I understand when I engage with the various theories and our desire to know.


In the classic tale, the sojourner goes out into the unknown to bring back the useful insight for the beleaguered and suffering individuals and /or community. More so, one hopes, at such a time. Might the old ways, even the one as simple as making the journey, help as tradition asserts, they have in the past? What are the true and potent medicines for a world whose life is at great risk?

It is only at this moment, as I try to convey something of what might matter for all of us, that I see the familiar stations of this journey, but most strikingly, the entry into the unknown and the ways the light, sunlight or moonlight, only briefly illuminates the darkness, one hour, perhaps, once a year, perhaps, if the clouds disperse. If the clouds disperse…. But, that one moment is sufficient for one’s soul.


Because I was suddenly charged with leading a writing retreat, scheduled to visit ancient sites in the Boyne valley and the Beara peninsula, places I had never been, I had to offer myself entirely to whatever might occur. Just days before I understood what was calling me, I had decided not to read or prepare for this trip. But then, grievous circumstances required that I step forward on behalf of someone who had originally imagined and arranged the trip. We could not cancel the trip, she had said, adamantly, and I trusted that she understood this in ways I could not then. The learning curve was steep, and ultimately, I was relying on John Matthews’ book Taliesen, the Last Celtic Shaman. Taliesen and Amairgin the Bold, both shaman bards, became ever present guides. They teach the ways to negotiate the passage between this world and the other world, between, past and future, human and other, dark and light, life and death. We needed these teachings because, as with the gunshots at the threshold of Lough Crew, death surrounded us from the beginning to the end – the ordinary deaths of two old men, the unbearable tragedies of two violent suicides, the great loss that come from drowning.

We had come to honor and attend the great mounds, all seemingly both tombs and corridors of light. And death surrounded us on the journey. Death surrounded us at Lough Gur. And death and violence surround all of us, in extraordinary measure, in what passes as the ordinary world.

Sometimes for us, the deaths were highly personal, sometimes they were simply in the air we were breathing. For example, the workshop that was to follow our retreat at Anam Cara, was cancelled when the leader, Irish poet, John O’Leary, drowned.

XXVII. (from Sea, 2003 by John O’Leary)

To Do List:

1. find dragon and slay

2. exorcise cat

3. prove conclusively the identity

of Beauty and Truth.

4. watch, fast and pray

5. sail Atlantic single-handed

6. write name in water

7. return Teach Yourself Waltzing Tape

8. weep for Adonais and feel bad

9. write her a letter telling her

you love her

10. go out into the midnight

and check for new stars.[1]


When you walk a labyrinth of wild grasses to its center, as you can at Anam Cara, you are at the center of the middle world between the past and the future. Turn 360 degrees to see the mountains and sea, the cattle and sheep, the cemetery on the hill and the cascades at the bottom of the meadow. It is from this place that you can ask the question that your soul is carrying or the question that the world’s soul requires us to address. Turn again and retrace your footsteps listening deeply to the words that pass through your heart but which originate elsewhere, somewhere beyond yourself.

When people die, we gather in circles to tell stories. Perhaps because the Irish seem to have such a profound relationship to the spirits of the dead, it is a country of storytellers, musicians and bards.

We approached the top of the legendary Hill of Tara. Gerard Clarke, former director of the Hill of Tara, stopped us so that we would proceed with awareness and concentration. When you cross this trench, he said, you are entering into the other world. We paused. Language we had heard again and again was about to become real. We were, indeed, about to step across. This is not a frivolous or fantasy activity. There are many who strive to separate the worlds rather than allowing them to intermingle. We learned that the stone barriers that had existed here were not to keep the enemy out; they were to keep the spirits in. If one dares to cross over with respect, one may receive great gifts.

On September 21, we left our lodgings at 5 am even though the sky was covered and it was raining. It had rained every day since my arrival on the 17th and would continue to rain each day, except for one brilliant sunlit day Saturday October 5th. You never know, Gerard Clarke said, what the weather will be at Lough Crew, (forty-five minutes away) even though he had last seen the light enter the mound fifteen years ago. As we approached, the center of the sky cleared but a broad band of clouds remained in the position of 6 to 9 o’clock and 3 to 6 o’clock at the eastern horizon. We climbed the hill in the mist, a fierce wind blowing, the temperature dropping. We were among the first of a small shivering band (and a few dogs) that had come with hopes of seeing the sunlight of the Equinox make its way, illuminating the carved stone walls of the mound. We would not have been surprised if it began to snow.

There is only a small sacred interval through which the light enters. 7:15am to 8:30 am. Then the possibility is over for a year. We made our offerings and waited. The wide band of dark clouds remained as wisps of mist began to waft over the other megaliths just below us. The sun climbed steadily and for a brief moment paused at an eye in the clouds but not close enough to reach the great stones. And then at 7:30 when we had almost lost hope, a thin ray of light began to make its way toward the entrance revealing the spiral carvings at the stone entrance. Six by six we were admitted into the tunnel to see the shining spiral at the back wall that had been viewed at equinox after equinox for thousands of years. A miracle and a sign of grace and the awesome presence of the Divine as it must have been for those who built this tomb against all odds, bringing the massive stones uphill, without the wheel, from miles and miles away,


At Tara out guide alerted us to the entryways between the roots of the great trees where the fairies, defeated and exiled from this world by Christianity, by the fearful and violent disbelievers in and enemies of wonder who began to colonize Ireland in the 400s C.E. The shaman bards tell us that like the light, the wee people emerge for only one day on Samhain / Halloween. This day, the beginning of the Celtic new year, is also the day totake stock, settle debts and decide upon future activities. A general armistice during this period allowed for meetings at the Hill of Tara between sworn enemies, made possible diplomacy and social activities beyond tribal and political boundaries.

We have been warring for so long. We have been exiling the light for so long. Yet, thankfully, it persists. The sun and moon rise. The clouds part.

The roles of the Shaman bards are complex and profound. The poets and story tellers are also singers, musicians, healers, prophets and diviners. They know the elements. They write and read the Ogham, the sacred alphabet of the trees. They speak with the birds, animals, plants and stars. They dream. They read the signs. They know the history and genealogy of person and place. They keep the rulers honest. They know the land. And even thought they are often warriors, they are also called upon to mediate between warring parties. They are born and reborn and reborn again and again. They remember.

The old tradition of story telling is still intact in Ireland. We didn’t fully expect to meet story tellers, to meet shaman bards, but we did. We didn’t fully expect to find magic, vision, healing, stories, music alive in the old ways but we did. Ireland, like other countries suffers conflict, the tension between Dublin and the loyalists and the on-going legacy of British colonization. It suffers poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, and other modern ills like deforestation and environmental decline. Ireland’s young people are living a diaspora again, leaving the country as they have in the past in order to make a living. A mother I met said, her grandfathers had gone to work in the mines in Butte, Montana and now her sons are leaving to work in the mines in Australia. There is concern that the influx of laborers from other countries, particularly from Russian and central Europe during the ‘Tiger’ years of economic boom, may be a problem now that the economy is declining. All the problems of contemporary Europe are here, but the antidote is that the spirits are present and recognized and that the storytellers, musicians and poets thrive; the vitality of these ancient traditions make all the differences.


A story is told of the great Irish hero and wisdom carrier, Fionn Mac Cumhail, who was involved in great conflict and so was told, “he durst not remain in Ireland else he took to poetry.” Poetry as strength and power that can protect and redeem a warrior.

Poetry the gift of the gods was sacred to the great goddess, Ceredwin of the cauldron, whose other faces are the Goddess Bride or Brigid and Cailleach Beara or the Hag of Beara, who is also associated with stones and bones and who governs dreams and inner realities. On one of her journeys, she dropped the stones she had gathered from her apron and they became the mountains. Poetry, healing, peacemaking and smithery were sacred to Brigid as earth goddess and keeper of the eternal fire. Saint Brigid, the disguised pagan goddess, kept these attributes and also took on the care of the poor. Two sisters of the Brigidine order introduced us to the ways of their order, Solas Bhride, a Christian Center devoted which focuses on Saint Brigid and Celtic Spirituality. We were taught how to make crosses, including the Mexican eye of god, out of rushes gathered by the streams. Then we were taken to the holy wells where the sisters sang songs as we walked from stone to stone representing Brigid’s offices.

Brigid’s sacred fire/flame that had burned from pre-Christian times until the 16th century was re-kindled in 1993, in the Market Square, Kildare, at the opening of a justice and peace conference. The conference was entitled “Brigid: Prophetess, Earthwoman, Peacemaker.”

“How does the Church respond to your work?” We asked the sisters. “The Church is not enthused,” one answered, “but the Dalai Lama visited us.”


Mary Maddison, a thin, delicate woman, 72 years old, has storytelling at her house one Saturday night each month and music one Thursday night. We sit in a circle on old couches, over stuffed or straight back chairs, on pillows and stools in the small room called The Rambling House, that also houses her collection of sea shells, some gathered into the shapes of animals and other beings. Here the young people and the older ones are invited to speak or play music when the stone talking piece passed from one to another reaches them. In another room are her landscape paintings and another room is full of stones and gems. In this room, Mary Maddison, shaman bard, healer and story teller, puts our feet into bowls of agate then tells the stories of our lives and futures by reading the stones that remain attached to us when we lift our feet. She has been doing this since she was a child. She saw the stones on the feet of those who walked the pebbled beach. “I had thought everyone read the stories,” she said,

She shows me the small house which will hold the crèche at Christmas time, the outside of which might have been decorated by Simon Rodia who created Watts Towers. Then we enter the mediation room with a pyramid glass ceiling and chant and pray together. We tell each other stories for hours. Stories of the everyday miracles and magic that occur when one honors the spirits that create and sustain the world. The rooster crows, the peacocks call, the crows fly overhead cawing. A magnificent sunset turns the ever present clouds red, purple, orange, amber. As twilight darkens, Mary speaks of the lights of the fairies that come forth in her garden at night. I am in the presence of a true shaman bard and she is one of many, of the tribe of shaman bards in Ireland.

Writers in the US are not asked to assume the complex and committed roles of the shaman bard. To the contrary, we often feel divided and quartered by what appear to be the conflicting demands that the shaman bard reconciles. The call to solitude, for example, challenged by the call to community. Writers are often criticized for being political. Revealing the truth, bearing witness, devoting oneself to matters of conscience are not always compatible with the commercial interests that dominate publishing. But these are the essential concerns for the shaman bard and how lucky we would be if we could reinstate and be faithful to the tradition.

The old old ways still survive in sacred places and among indigenous people and cultures all over the world. They survive despite the relentless wars against them, against the land and the natural world, by religion, science, the military and the nation state. The fate of the earth, the life of the world hangs in the balance. This journey to Ireland convinces me that it is time, again, to call forth and inhabit the shaman bards in all of us. No matter the risk, it is time to tell the true and lyric stories of restoration of the old old ways, to tell our own experiences of our true spiritual lives and our stories of experiences within the natural world. It is the time to fully honor the rare, slender rays of light that come forth from the clouds to illuminate the old carvings, the old wisdom contained in the stones patiently standing in circle, these thousand of years.

[1] Poetry Ireland.



Nashville Tennessee. I am here to give a talk at Gilda’s Club and the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health. Then to lead a workshop, Writing the Living Matrix.

When I arrive, a fierce thunderstorm causes us to pull into a parking lot; we can’t see to drive. Lightning streaks across the sky and thunder roars. The center of the storm is overhead. The novel I am writing now, A Rain of Night Birds, is about lightning. Thunderstorms threatened the Southern California area when I left. But Nashville is not tinder dry and I do not fear fire in the way we do at home. At this moment, the lightning, virtually overhead is welcoming. In the novel, a woman is struck by lightning and is transformed. The talk I am to give is titled, “Cancer and Transformation.”

For years I lectured at medical schools, hospitals and universities, recognizing that cancer, in particular, and illness in general, are means of both oppression and liberation. Even as patients are coerced into accepting an increasingly iatrogenic system whose medicines, protocols and side effects threaten our individual lives and the earth itself, patients are, as physicians and health professionals are also, increasingly, focusing on changing their personal and professional lives on behalf of universal healing.

Astonished by the inescapable understanding that the threat to one’s life is a threat to life itself, patients begin to experience cancer as a wake-up call. As I continue to write this essay today 9/11 Day, 103, we are greeted with the strangely good news that the Federal health authorities Monday added 58 types of cancer to the list of covered illnesses for people who were exposed to toxins at the site of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

War and cancer are bedfellows for thousands of different reasons. The fallout from the manufacture and use of weapons as well as the fall out from the different kinds of wars we wage, including those against cancer. Cancer is the collateral damage at home of the American and global military, scientific, industrial, technological, chemical complex. This wake-up call, like 2012, aligns us with the suffering earth. What I say about cancer, healing and the war mentality from which cancer springs, is met with complete understanding and many tears, even here in what the local person who invited me calls “The Buckle of the Bible Belt.”


In a few days, I will be traveling to Ireland. When invited by a dear friend and colleague, to retreat and write and to be restored by the old ones, the megaliths, the great stones and the living vibrant green of Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Tara, Lough Crew at the Autumn Equinox, I was aware, accepting with gratitude, that it would take place three months before 12/21/2012. It seemed like preparation for the shift we hope to enact within ourselves and on behalf of the world, but I didn’t know how. And I still don’t know, even though grievous circumstances have created the need for me to substitute and lead the retreat on behalf of the poet who created this journey. And, as every thing I do now leads me to ponder how this might affect the future we must preserve, I enter this moment of not knowing with the same radical hope and determination I have been carrying for years.

But just days ago, I heard a radio documentary regarding the violence that has broken out again in Belfast, Ireland between radical loyalists and Dublin. Peacemakers are taking steps to prevent it from escalating on September 29th when a parade, potentially inflammatory, is scheduled. What is unusual in this instance is that the greatest injuries have occurred to the police, sixty of them wounded, who were trying to stop the rioting. But, as has become commonplace in the kinds of conflicts we so enthusiastically pursue, the children are also the victims. The road to school is the no man’s land the Irish children traverse each day fearing that they may be shot and killed. Nor are our North American schools safe any longer.

[What is ours? What is theirs? Isn’t it all ours now? If we can inflict such harm on each other, aren’t we all ours?]

Anyone who still pretends that our ubiquitous preoccupation with conflict, the creation and distribution of arms of all sorts, from hand guns to nuclear and biological weapons, as well as the mandated focus upon violence and/or sex and violence that pervades the media and popular literature, are not among the root causes of the grim devastation of this time in human history, is both a victim and a perpetrator of our mass delusion. Self interest and survival do not justify our collusion, indulgence and/or our pleasure, in such means.

This sudden rising up of grief and frustration has taken me away from what I am trying to understand and write about. I am on way to Ireland to meet the spirits that may still exist in that land which was decimated, as were all aboriginal lands, by those who would conquer and destroy.

Speaking to a room of patients, physicians, therapists, nurses yesterday, I offered what I learned from a medicine man, a nganga, in Zimbabwe: “Spirit wants to heal.”

This heart knowledge came from a man who had been born into and who suffered the horrors of apartheid only to have it followed by the madness – shall we say the colonialism induced madness – of Robert Mugabe, first war hero and liberator, then cruel dictator.

Still… Spirit wants to heal.

I said this and its truth was understood even by those in the room who are suffering from war induced or war inflected diseases. I had related my own experience with breast cancer that probably resulted from my family’s (beloved and respected) physician’s fascination with fluoroscopy and so with radiation. (Were there any greater meanings in the incident of cancer I suffered in 1977? Perhaps so that thirty-five years later, I am writing this to you, so that we will pay attention.)

I had already spoken to the group of a treasured friend who had leukemia because of the uranium tailings on the Reservation in the Four Corners area. The uranium was mined for Los Alamos. And you know what happened, what is happening there.

(The mining companies and the government never cleaned it up. Can it be cleaned up?)

The war that prompted that madness was not /is not the only war, however. Late for my plane, I wonder if I am going to miss it altogether because I am not willing to submit to more radiation and would ask for a pat down instead, as it is now everywhere, even tucked into our pocket and purses in the forms of smart phones, and invading our homes as smart meters.

Some socially imposed dangers can be avoided, some cannot. I am very aware that walking through security at the airport is walking through a terror zone. War is everywhere. Terror everywhere. An old friend I meet for lunch, single father and monk, comments that the Bush, Cheney and Rove trinity instigated the fear and terror state and we are its on-going victims. Do those three also live in and with terror, constantly fearing terrorists within and without? I think they must.

The big terrors and the small terrors, the big wars and the small wars, they are constant and everywhere. The discussion we have at the end of the talk at Gilda’s Club, leads me to comment on one of the small but not less dangerous wars: “We are all going to die of antiseptics,” I say referring to one of our more routine, commonplace and unremitting wars. I was noting the antiseptic “weapon dispensary” at the entrance of Whole Foods that feeds our terror of contamination by community. Laughter erupts prompted by our bitter awareness of the real dangers of fear.

“ ‘I would like to lose the language of warfare,’ said Julie Segre, a senior investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute.


 ‘It does a disservice to all the bacteria that have co-evolved with us and are maintaining the health of our bodies.’ “This new approach to health is known as medical ecology. Rather than conducting indiscriminate slaughter, Dr. Segre and like-minded scientists want to be microbial wildlife managers. “No one wants to abandon antibiotics outright. But by nurturing the invisible ecosystem in and on our bodies, doctors may be able to find other ways to fight (sic) infectious diseases and with less harmful side-effects.”


I, myself, do not even want to be a ‘wildlife manager’ of any sort. My hope is that we will allow the restoration of the original exquisite self-regulating ways of the natural world. Ecology, the essential balance.

We live in a war mentality. It is pervasive. It has infected us entirely. But as we must not war against it, how then shall we transform our lives? Spirit wants to heal. We are called to alliances. We are asked to give up enemy making. As a friend said once, “Create an environment that is inhospitable to disease.” I follow her statement with, “Let us create environments that are inhospitable to violence.”


I am on my way to Ireland to be with the old ones. I will be at Lough Crew, one of the ancient sites on the equinox to see the light enter and illuminate the inner chamber. The essential teachings of the old ones, our ancestors, to prepare me/us for the great darkness that may or may not open again to renewal. Even, or especially, as hostilities break out, it is time to be among the great stones that were set in place to mark the coming and going of the light.

I go carrying the question I posed at the writing retreat. Aware that I would be speaking with the ancient ones, I guided the writers who had gathered to speak to their descendents: What do you see that we can do now so that you will be born and will live a vital life in the natural world?

What do I want for my descendents? Earth as green as Ireland.

I spent the winter solstice at the Arctic Circle in Norway in 1996. At the moment of the solstice, the sky turned magenta and I was swept up into its great beauty as a great dark bird, greater than any I had ever seen flew across the sky

This year at Lough Crew, I hope to see the light in all its manifestations. When a spiritual moment is met by vision, then we know that spirit exists and we double down, fall to our knees to meet our vows and commitments. I don’t know when I will be able to write and post again. Perhaps at the end of October or early November when we will be rushing toward the Solstice.

How will you/will we continue to transform in the meantime?

Spirit wants to heal. Spirit wants healing.


To end this letter about healing and spirit, here is a story I was given as a gift by someone who had attended my talk, Cancer and Transformation.

Bob Marshall had had cancer. He had just started a new business. He would go to work, go to chemo, come home and collapse. In the past, he had walked in the woods near his house and had met a hybrid cat/bob cat. He would talk to the large cat and he would talk back: “Yowl.” They had “this connection.”

Once the bobcat was kicked by a deer and cut open to the bone from neck through ribs. The cat came to him and allowed Bob to reach under him and swab the wound with Neosporin. “His paws were as large as my palm,” Bob said opening his own wide, work worn palm. “And his claws… He could have slashed me as he had been slashed.”

Now when Bob was literally collapsed on the ground from the chemo, the bobcat would come and knead him with his paws. The bobcat did this everyday, massaging, massaging.

“He healed me,” the man said.

“He was a spirit,” I respond.

“Yes,” Bob Marshall said. “He was a spirit. He healed me.”

Spirit wants to heal.

Spirit wants the patients to heal and the earth to heal. Spirit wants healing. We are called to be the Way.

TO CONSIDER 2012 Day 119

I dream that a conventional appearing middle class woman is calmly and confidently shooting two young lovers with a rifle.  She shoots the young woman point blank and then turns the rifle on the young man who stands there horrified as he is shot to death.  She is standing in the shadow of the roof of one of those concessions that lined the Boardwalk of Coney Island near where I lived as a child.  I can’t see into the room, but by its dimensions this might have been an amusement gallery, the kind with the fortune teller doll in a glass case in the center who will hand you a paper fortune for a penny or a nickel.

Having killed the lovers, she turns her rifle toward me, where I am watching from about a hundred yards away across the Boardwalk.  She wants to silence me, to prevent me from writing about the extraordinary intelligence and the plight of the Elephant People  In the dream, my essays are being reprinted and becoming influential.  I manage to escape her to the Boardwalk entrance ramps where I meet Ron Kovic, the Vietnam veteran anti-war activist whose own story is told in “Born on the Fourth of July.”  We greet each other having been in the anti-war movement at the same time.

Suddenly, I am with him in a small room.  He is not in his wheelchair but is standing.  I am standing with him and we are embracing each other as comrades.  He has healed almost all of his wounds in the course of these years.  And he is still Ron Kovic standing up for what he believes.

I write down the dream and then learn that there was a showing of “Born on the Fourth of July” at the  Museum of Modern Art on July 5th 2012.  Alexander Reed Kelley wrote about the event  in Truthdig, on July 19th. “There “There is a scene in “Born on the Fourth of July” where Kovic, played by Tom Cruise, and a small group of veterans enter the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Fla…..

“My name is Ron Kovic. I am a Vietnam veteran,” Kovic says as he attempts to stand up from his wheelchair. “I am here to say that this war is wrong, that this society lied to me. It lied to my brothers. It deceived the people of this country, tricked them into going 13,000 miles to fight a war against a poor peasant people …”

“After the film, speaking to the audience, Kovic said,

“There’s a chill in the air. People are intimidated. … Protest is supposed to be part of our constitutional right and our freedom of assembly, the freedom to question authority and the freedom to redress our grievances, which we saw during the Occupy movement. … Since 9/11, those who protest are almost made to feel as if they’re the enemy. …They’re afraid of being called traitors and being called un-American,” as Kovic himself has been called continuously while sitting in his wheelchair, bearing wounds he sustained while attempting to defend his nation, since he began to speak out against the wars. I think one of the most American things you can do is to speak your mind, to gather on a street corner and express yourself.”

As in the dream, it is easy to pick off individuals one at a time but perhaps the  gathering of minds is a different matter.

Kelley’s article hits home.  Preparing to lead a writing retreat among the ancient stones and megaliths of Ireland in mid-September, I have just read of the defeat of the Druids by the Romans.[1]

The power of the Druids was so feared by the Romans that in 60 CE, their legions …made the crossing to the island of the dreamers and began the destruction of the sacred groves…. With great effort the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus, rallied his men to attack this “band of females and fanatics….  The next step … was to demolish the groves consecrated to their savage cults.

How long these wars against the innocents have been going on.

The conventional woman in my dream has no difficulty killing the innocents; it is what she does, just as the militarists have been engaged in endless war for millennia. It is how things have been and it is what must be undone.   We know that consciousness is real and so we can change and reintegrate ourselves into the ecology of creation. Why else would spirit have sent this dream at this time?

The woman aims at me with her rifle because I stand with the Elephant People.  Let us not imagine for a moment that the aerial war against the wolves, the hunting by helicopter of elephants and rhinos, the conscription of dolphin into suicide missions, the devastation of the forests,the sacred groves, the mountains, the waters, air and land, the contamination of Mars with plutonium, the requisitioning of aboriginal lands and their resources everywhere, are not the same as the horrific acts of war we have witnessed and are living through in this and the last centuries against all the different peoples of this earth.

In the dream, I meet the violence and probably save my life by making an alliance with an elder anti-war activist.  After a long common history, we still stand together.

Why this dream at this time, I asked and then looked for Ron’s recent activities, not even knowing if he is alive.  Then I found the article about the talk he had just given.

In the dream, anti-war is anti-war.  A No Enemy Way.

At Daré, on Sunday, the 19th, a woman told a story of an old ghost in the attic of a church who asked for help cleaning up a mess.  She knew it was his mess that he needed to clean.  He had caused her family injury.  She resented having to help.  But when a ghost wants help in cleaning up the past …!

I remember a line from a play I saw many years ago.  The identity of a former Nazi officer living incognito among French resistance members is uncovered.  Their intention is to kill him in retribution.  “Hate the deed, but not the man,” he pleas for his own life.

The No-Enemy way is committed to undoing war without engaging in war.  We will have to be so very clever, determined and dedicated to clean up the grand mess.  We will have to do it together.  Many of the peoples on the planet, like the Wolf People, the Elephant people, the Tree people cannot defend themselves as indigenous people have ultimately been unable to defend themselves against the warmongers over the years.  And yet the planet must not die.

I met Ron Kovic in my dream last night. He stood up and I stood up next to him.  Today, Day 119 before 2012, a dream calls me to stand up with / for the young lovers of the world, the Elephant people, and ‘the others,’ that is, for ourselves.


The Training Group for the 5th World that I offer will include a focus on the No Enemy Way in 2013.

I will also continue to focus on Dreams as Spirit’s way of communicating with us and our communities on behalf of the future.

[1] The Secret History of Dreaming, Robert Moss, p.22


My friend and colleague, Joan Tewkesbury, has a classic writing exercise that she assigns her students. She has them make lists in response to unexpected questions. Then she asks them to select one item from each of three or several lists and make a story with the elements. Unexpected insight and meaning always appears, especially for those who are not professionals and so are willing to let themselves be caught off guard. Especially for those who have not closed their hearts to truth, suffering or beauty.

This piece has something of that assignment. Here are the elements, let see of we can find meanings that bind them and can bind us together so we can truly meet our common circumstances.

1. Make a list of those you know well who are experiencing unprecedented, extreme and paralyzing suffering. (Include yourself when appropriate.) What stories are overtaking these people?

Four very close women friends of mine, of different ages, living rather different lives in different parts of the country, are each unraveled by shifting patterns of panic attacks, irrational guilt, paralyzing fear, unexplained physical pain, and overwhelming, insufferable grief. The grief may have a personal component but it is not the core. Each is debilitated in different ways to different degrees at different times. For each, this is unprecedented.

Another friend has just, unhappily, joined this list.

2. Make a list of those you know well, who are involved in, or have somehow created or become the victim of conflict and violence (or both) which years ago they would have considered impossible. . (Include yourself when appropriate.) What are the stories that are emerging?

Though I live in the midst of people and communities committed to peaceful living and peace-building work, there have been, among us, an alarming number of incidents of violence, threat and irresolvable conflict. Fear and survival strategies, rather than true heartfelt compassionate responses are beginning to dominate their exchanges. Even the peacemakers seem unable and, sometimes, unwilling to make peace with each other. There are great discrepancies between words spoken and actions taken or not taken. Three such events have come to me this week.

3. Make a list of friends, family members or acquaintances who find themselves touched by violence that years ago they had only expected to meet in the newspapers, not in their own communities or lives. . (Include yourself when appropriate.) If these incidents were dreams or the plots of novels, how would you understand them?

Fire season has come to the country and the planet. It feels like it could only take one match for everything to burn. I feel inundated by unprecedented cruelty. More kin, more peers, more friends, more colleagues, more relations than I could ever imagine have suffered true cruelty at the hands of parents, teachers, therapists, healers, clergy than I can count. When I add the fate of the animals and other living beings, then I know we are drowning in seas of blood and pain.

4. Make a list of events or activities that are presented as appropriate, normal, rightful, historic, progressive, evolutionary, successful and celebratory but that you are called to question or challenge. . (Include yourself when appropriate.) What do you (secretly?) think is the true story that is not being told?

When the Mars Rover landed it had a plutonium battery pack that is expected to last 6 to 12 years. There is a NASA report of a hearing to see if it was safe enough to use this pack in the event of an explosion at the launching.  The scientists tried to determine the number of people who might be injured or die from cancer from exposure to plutonium if the probe exploded   There was no thought of what might happen on landing or in the future. There is no concern for the pristine landscape to which the probe was headed.  It turns out that most of our probes have similar plutonium packs. We foul each of our nests, even before we build them. As with the Conquest, we lead with the contemporary equivalent of small pox, liquor and weapons so as to wipe out what might be already living or what might come to life in these places. Self-interest seems to replace all options. solar-options-nasanuclear-alliance-continues-plutoniumpowered-missions

What is the larger story here? How are we each participating in these events? We are the victims but how are we also perpetrators? What actions might each of us engage in to extract ourselves from these stories and events?  How might we shift the story to one of true kindness, true compassion, true perspective, true inclusivity, true connectivity, true relationship with all beings? What needs to happen in each of us so that fear, grief, guilt and poverty of all sorts lead away from reactivity to true community, alliance, cooperation and compassion? This question requires a mirror and a searchlight. Write and live the redeeming story that emerges.

These are the signs of the times.  We wondered how we would meet them when they occurred. This is Day 129 before 2012.  Transformation can come through the ways we meet the great difficulties that are here.  But if now, we are not the peacemakers, if we are not the kind ones, if we don’t seek out the ways to care and intervene, if we do not speak out and live differently.  We are each called each day, in the great ways and the small.



I am reading Gareth Patterson’s book, The Secret Elephants. He is forthright about his extraordinary experiences from the beginning. A meticulous student of his subject, whether lion or elephant, he does not hesitate to speak of the ways in which intuition and other ways of knowing that science often disdains have been central to his discoveries and understanding. A profound and necessary honesty. I turn to this book after reading, savoring, Leslie Marmon Silko’s The Turquoise Ledge who speaks from her own deep experience of the intelligence and agency of animals as well as the constant presence of the ancestors. Simultaneously, I read the The Lightning Spirits by Craig E. Kedros. He was led to speak of experiences in Mexico that verified the persistence of the spirits and the hidden practitioners who keep the old knowledge awake.

A friend comments on how easily, it seems to her, I speak of the spirits. I didn’t always speak this way. I didn’t always have such experiences. I didn’t always know. Many events occurred to educate me about this inspirited world of ours. In 1981, I collaborated with theater director, Steven Kent, to recover and re-enact the Eleusinian Mysteries in Greece for the first time in 1500 years. We entered the Mysteries and then, without question, we knew. (Birth and Death in the Eleusinian Mysteries on my website –

It is so difficult to speak of these things when we know that we are going to confront the determined skepticism and scorn of science and conventional thought. Science turned against itself, turned against its original urge to know and understand free of prejudice and self-interest. It is difficult to speak truth when one might be accused of anything and everything these days, even of heresy, of devil’s work.

In the late sixties, early seventies, I was the defendant in an academic freedom case because of a poem of mine I had used in a community college English class unit on censorship. While the case was in the courts, (before we won in the California Supreme Court) I was teaching at the California Institute for the Arts. Robert Corrigan, then President, called me into his office one day to tell me that a member of the Board of Trustees had asked him: “What is that woman from hell doing on our faculty?” In those days, we were defending poetry, freedom of speech and academic freedom, the rights of students to know, etc. But it could have as easily been a defense of the right to a spiritual life. That case played out in the courts and in the press. What was most essential, however, was the dialogue between faculty and students – our camaraderie.

Again in these frightening times, in so many seemingly distinct arenas, we are called to testify and defend the truths that are re-emerging to challenge the banal, the technological, the greedy and the violent. To challenge every form of fundamentalism, all those who war against the earth and what President Eisenhower called the military industrial complex. I heard the last paragraph of his departing speech again a few days ago and it is truer, a greater warning, than ever.

I do not urge anyone to any extreme acts of bravery, or to act in ways that might endanger their lives or the lives of their loved ones. When I went to court to defend myself as a teacher, I was thirty-three and didn’t fully understand what the implications and consequence of such conflict might be. Now I know more of what the consequences may be – of speaking out and of being silent. I can only hope, as I contemplate these times, that I will meet whatever I am called to meet.

Having posted the first To Consider letter, I am afraid, of course, that I will not meet my own hopes and expectations. Perhaps I write this here to encourage myself. Isn’t it a common hope that we will live according to what we have spoken when the time comes? Still, when I am thinking of 2012, I am increasing aware of the truth of things that want to be revealed. The truth of what has become, of what we have become, of our dire and dangerous circumstances. Of our participation and entanglement in what acts against all life.

AND the truth of the great mysteries, of their existence and persistence. Both – AND the truth and and the truth – the big statements and the small.

Gareth Patterson begins this way. It is his quiet assertion that moves me. He is speaking quietly of what he sees, knows and so lives. He is speaking of what he knows, as you will see, to everyone who is listening:

“A few days after the helicopter went missing (March 6th, 1999) I gave a presentation on how, after the murder of my friend George Adamson, (with Joy Adamson, Born Free) I had rescued George’s last lion orphans in Kenya and returned them to the wild in the Tuli bushlands of Botswana. The audience that evening consisted of South African businessmen and their wives.

“During the presentation, I mentioned that I occasionally used a diving technique with a map and pendulum as a means of locating lions. In principle, this is similar to the way in which people divine for water. Dowsing, as it is called, is one of the oldest arts and is widely used today in fields as diverse as medicine and archaeology. George Adamson’s brother, Terence, discovered late in his life that he cold locate lions, geological faults, and even missing people with the use of a pendulum and map. …I too, from time to time would use a pendulum to locate lions.”          from The Secret Elephants, page 5.

I have been sitting with these questions since the first posting: What is to be said? What is not to be said? What to say, what not to say? What to say? What not not to say? And how to speak of what calls to be spoken so that it is incorporated easily into language and its concerns, so that what is true, but has been hidden our of fear or lack of opportunity or lack of invitation, is reinserted into the casual conversation of each day. So much depends on speaking openly and casually to each other of what we see and know.

After a short presentation at an interfaith gathering at a NY State university, I asked the members of the audience if any one had had any experiences that would be considered events of extraordinary reality. There was a long silence. A long, terrible silence. Then, hesitantly, one of the chaplains spoke of her mother coming to her, shortly after death, as a bird. She did not doubt it was her mother. Then the second chaplain spoke. And then, one after another, everyone in the room told a story that they had had to carry secretly. It was clear at the end of the afternoon, after we had spent so much more time together than had been planned, that we had broken through a powerful barrier. Everything marvelous and true could now be spoken. Everything marvelous and true would be spoken and held in trust. A community of knowing had formed based on each one’s experience. At the end of the afternoon no one was afraid. At the end of the afternoon, we all felt joy as if the world had been restored.


I take the two pendulums that I like to wear and use, you know, the leopard’s tooth and the turquoise elephant, and hold them over this text and ask if I should post it. They swing together in a strong wide circle that looks like, Yes. It looks  enthusiastically like Yes. And so, here it is.

The Blue Lights of Heaven

Consider. To live according to the lights of the heavens.

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